Marriage Equality USA

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Lawsuits - Pending

Sevcik v. Sandoval

Case #: 2:12-cv-00578 District Court; 12-17668 (9th Circuit)
Court Level: District Court
Date Filed: 10 April 2012
Date of Appeal: 3 December 2012


  • 10 April 2012, a lawsuit seeking full marriage equality was filed in federal district court by Lambda Legal on behalf of 8 same-gender couples.
  • 26 November 2012, District Judge Robert C. Jones ruled that same-sex couples have no constitutional right to marry: (1) because they usually do not procreate; and (2) because if same-gender couples start marrying, then opposite-gender couples might marry less often. The judge also ruled that laws related to sexual orientation should not be tested under heightened scrutiny because gays and lesbians now have substantial political power, and thus no longer qualify as a minority class.
  • 3 December 2012, Lambda Legal appealed the November 2012 ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and on 7 January 2013, the 9th Circuit set June 2013 deadlines for filing briefs.
  • 5 December 2012, the anti-LGBT group Coalition For the Protection of Marriage from Boise, ID asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
  • 27 June 2013, SCOTUS denied cert (that request).
  • 25 October 2013, BALIF Coaltion, including MEUSA, submitted Amicus Brief
  • 24 January 2014, NV Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced she was reviewing the state's brief because the 9th Circuit's decision in SmithKline Beecham Corporation v. Abbott Laboratories (under LAWSUITS - RESOLVED below) on 21 January 2014 established that laws that make a distinction based on sexual orientation are subject to heightened scrutiny, making the arguments that NV had made based on the less demanding rational basis standard "likely no longer tenable in the Ninth Circuit."
  • 10 February 2014, AG Masto withdrew the state's brief defending Nevada's ban on marriage equality. Governor Sandoval agreed, saying, "It has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court." Defendant the Carson City Clerk also withdrew from the case. This left only the intervenors in this case, the Boise group Coalition For the Protection of Marriage, to defend the Nevada ban.
  • 12 February 2014 the Court granted Plaintiffs' request to expedite the hearing. Oral argument will be calendared "as soon as possible." The order also (1) Grants the Governor's motion to withdraw his brief, and (2) Uncouples this case from the Jackson appeals (Hawaii) for purposes of panel assignment with the note, "In the event the Jackson cases are not dismissed, the parties may file a renewed request to have those cases assigned to the panel that will consider" this case.
  • The case is fully briefed. Defendants the Carson City Clerk and the Governor have withdrawn their briefs and are no longer opposing the appeal (although intervenor—proponent of the state ban on marriage equality is). Motion to expedite oral argument has been granted, and oral argument was set for 8 September 2014, in San Francisco, 9:30am-1:00pm PT.
  • 20 August 2014, the 9th Circuit informed the parties in this case that they should be prepared to discuss the standing issue re: the intervenors (Coalition for the Protection of Marriage from ID) at oral arguments on September 8th.
  • 28 August 2014, the plaintiffs filed their letter brief RE: the issue of Intervenor Coalition for the Protection of Marriage's standing in the case. The court rejected the brief because it wasn't double-spaced. An updated brief was filed on 29 August 2014.
  • 29 August 2014, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage  filed their letter brief RE: the issue of their standing as intervenors in the case.
  • 8 September 2014, oral argument was heard by the Ninth Circuit. During the hearings the Court did, indeed, question Lambda Legal attorney Tara Borelli regarding whether or not the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage has standing to participate. Borelli's response was that there is no opposition to the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage participating as intervenors at this stage of the judicial proceedings - she does not see any legal grounds that would prevent their participation. However, Borelli followed up by clarifying that should the proponents of marriage equality win at the 9th Circuit, the Coalition would not have standing to then petition SCOTUS for cert. Interestingly, Attorney Monte Neil Stewart, who argued for the opponents to marriage equality in both the Idaho and Nevada cases, is a native of Utah, who moved to Idaho from Nevada approximately 5 years ago.
  • 7 October 2014, the 9th Circuit ruled that the Nevada ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit issued an order to issue the mandate immediately. The mandate was issued the same afternoon. Courtesy Kathleen Perrin at Equality Case Files: Because Plaintiffs lost [in the trial court], there is currently no injunction stopping the state from enforcing its marriage ban. The 9th Circuit decision and mandate sends the case back to the district court where the lower court is instructed to issue an injunction "promptly." Nevada could choose to not wait for that, but there is nothing requiring Nevada to comply until the injunction is issued. 
  • 8 October 2014, the plaintiffs filed a "Proposed Order Granting Permanent Injunctive Relief" with the district court.
  • 8 October 2014, from Kathleen Perrin of Equality Case Files: The Nevada ruling has become entangled in Idaho's developments. Idaho is trying to avoid complying with the federal injunction against its marriage ban while it asks the 9th Circuit to reconsider the decision and possibly take an appeal to the Supreme Court. To accomplish that, Idaho filed a number of motions, including an emergency application for a stay. To understand, first a little review of federal court procedure. When a circuit court of appeals issues an opinion, it's just that - an opinion - and does not require that anything happen - yet. The formal order that makes the ruling take effect is called the "mandate." In the case of Nevada, the mandate serves as direction to the district court to now issue an injunction barring Nevada from enforcing its marriage ban.
  • 8 October 2014, a change of judges, District Judge Robert Jones filed an Order of Recusal for himself and referred this case to the Honorable Gloria M. Navarro, Chief Judge.
  • 8 October 2014, Justice Kennedy clarified that his stay applies to Idaho only, not Nevada.
  • 8 October 2014, a group opposed to marriage equality filed an application asking Kennedy to postpone the Ninth Circuit decision as it applies to Nevada.
  • 9 October 2014, the anti-gay group withdraws its SCOTUS application referenced immediately above. The group also withdrew its its motion to join in Idaho's request for a stay.
  • 9 October 2014, the 9th Circuit says the mandate is back in full force - no injunction has been issued yet, but couples should be able to marry soon! 
  • 9 October 2014, the order was finally issued making marriage official! 
  • But wait! And, on 13 October 2014, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage petitioned for a rehearing of this case en banc. Yes, really, they did. And, in a very disrespectful manner. Nevada Anti-Gay Group Accuses 9th Circuit Of Panel-Packing; DKos Gets A Mention In Their Brief - Daily Kos, 13 October 2014
  • 29 October 2014, the Coalition for Protection of Marriage filed a "Notice of Further information Regarding the 13 October 2014 Statistical Report." From Kathleen Perrin at EQCF: This report accompanied the Coalition's petition for en banc rehearing and called into question the randomness of 9th Circuit panels that has considered marriage cases at that court. The notice points to a website where the Coalition offers to "provide the full data to any individual who provides to us his or her real name and genuine contact information, along with any professional affiliations, as well as the code of his or her analysis. We also ask each of those persons to provide to us his or her results for posting on this website."
  • 11 November 2014, Monte Stewart, attorney for the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, submitted a letter to to Chief Judge Kozinski with more on his theory that the 9th Circuit is stacked against them.
  • 12 November 2014, Governor Sandoval filed his opposition Response to Intervenor's Petition for Rehearing En Banc.
  • 12 November 2014, and the plaintiffs filed their opposition Response to Intervenor's Petition for Rehearing En Banc.
  • 9 January 2015, the 9th Circuit denied the request for this case and Idaho's Latta cases, to be reconsidered by a larger panel, with three judges dissenting.

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